After the lengthy 4-year break between his 2012 release Channel Orange and follow-up albums Endless and Blonde in 2016, it seems Frank Ocean’s been busy. In February, he featured on Calvin Harris’ ‘Slide’, and a month later he drops ‘Chanel’.
Ocean’s obsession with the idea of duality (“I got twoooo versions” he sings on ‘Nikes’) permeates throughout Chanel. In the first verse, he raps/sings about a lover who is “pretty like a girl / [who] got fight stories to tell,” examining his lover’s dual masculinity and femininity. He “sees both sides like Chanel”, referencing both the double-Cs of the Chanel logo and his bisexuality. ‘Chanel’ was released with “twoooo versions” as well, Ocean releasing a remix of the song with A$AP Rocky alongside it.
He raps and sings over a mellow, syncopated beat and a spacey piano. It stands alone in Frank’s recent discography in terms of sound, but the track picks up on some of the production techniques used on the album to great effect. His voice is doubled, auto-tuned and reverb heavy, whilst maintaining the minimalism of the track. It’s an approach that works well, complementing his deeply introspective lyrics well and creating what’s become an almost signature sound for Frank Ocean. It’s an exciting look in the direction he’s heading.